Thursday, February 3, 2011

Oh Lady O

It seems like Oprah is bound and determined to make the headlines in her last few months on CBS.  She introduced her long-lost sister to the world—on air—a few weeks back and this week…heck, she goes vegan.

Yep…the five letters us farmers and ranchers hate to see together. V.E.G.A.N.

Tuesday afternoon, as the Twitter feed went crazy, Lady O preached to her faithful followers the value of veganism.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to watch the show at the airport, so what I know is from tweets, Google searches and YouTube videos.  I haven’t been a loyal fan in quite some time, in fact, just thinking back, I only ever got to watch Oprah for that short two-week period between high school sport seasons, but I will actually admit I always have liked Oprah.  Goodness, she is a living legend.

However, today I am awful disappointed in Lady O.  She failed me and she failed the agriculture industry.

Throughout her hour-long segment (though my Tweeps suggest there were lots of commercials), she spewed her non-scientific view on the health values of veganism.   Of course, she had some real sources—the self-proclaimed food expert himself, Michael Pollan—defending her stance and it sounds as she did at least provide Cargill the opportunity to share some of our story.

However, the damage is done.  While the agvocates were filling their #Oprah feeds with the value of beef and animal products, hundreds of other Tweeps around the world were pledging to go vegan for a week.

Uurgh.  It makes me sick just typing it.

And, it comes just on the tail of the new USDA dietary guidelines released suggesting the importance of meat and poultry products in a healthy, balanced diet.  Oh Oprah—why didn’t you join the media bandwagon that is starting to say good things about our industry?  Why didn’t you interview the farmers and ranchers that are working so hard to share our stories?   And why oh why didn’t you give the great staff at Beef Checkoff or a similar organization the opportunity to the share the real health benefits of beef and animal products?

No.  Instead you call up Mr. Pollan, convince all of your staff to go vegan for a week and have a not so healthy or helpful discussion about the animal industry.

It hurts Lady O.  I thought we were friends.  I really wanted to be on your last give away show and I really wanted to continue to look up to you as a successful and inspiring person.  Instead, as a journalist, I am disappointed.  You skewed the story.  You didn’t let the dairy farmer’s daughter even finish her point.

Fortunately for us, we were all listening.  We had a mighty fierce discussion during your show that got us all fired up and ready to go.  And meanwhile, you unfortunately just joined the ranks of Suzanne Summers and Carrie Underwood as na├»ve celebrities preaching your personal, poorly-backed cause.   

You see Oprah, we didn't really care if you want to be a vegan.  Good for you, you clearly have more power than all of us…we like a good steak and a cold glass of milk far too much.  However, we really care if you use your celebrity status to preach to the world to the values of veganism.  It not only hurts our business, but it hurts our lifestyle.

I will give you some credit because thankfully, you gave us some credit.  You let Cargill in and surprisingly Mr. Pollan had a nice thing or two to say, however, even with all that I won’t forgive you yet.  I am patiently waiting for an apology—and I would like to see it in a form of a talk show where you actually talk to us.  Let us share with you what we do.  There is more to meat than the packing plant, there is the thousands of farmers and ranchers working everyday to keep our animals healthy and your food safe.  Why don’t you give us a call the next time you want to talk about animal agriculture? We will be happy to be on your show…especially if you make it a give-away show, too. :)

Until then Lady O…we are officially friends off. 

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